Overnight Energy: Republican candidates condemn Oregon takeover

'STAND DOWN': Gunmen who took over a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon aren't getting sympathy from GOP presidential candidates.

The group, which is led by two sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and refers to itself as a militia, is in the third day of its takeover of a remote federal wildlife refuge building in rural Oregon.

While some Republicans running for president this year were sympathetic toward the general movement to reduce federal property, everyone who spoke about the takeover condemned the activists' actions.

Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) called on the Bundy brothers and their 300 or so followers to "stand down," faulting them for using the threat of violence and force to get their points across.

Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) said protesters cannot be "lawless," and Ben Carson said "there is nothing that justifies the armed occupation of government buildings."

White House press secretary Josh Earnest avoided talking about the standoff at length, calling it "a local law enforcement matter."

The Bundys are protesting the five-year jail sentence of a pair of property owners who burned nearby federal land. But they're also protesting more generally federal ownership of vast swaths of land in the West, a common complaint by activists there.

Read more here.

THE PEOPLE VS. VOLKSWAGEN: The federal government sued Volkswagen on Monday over the emissions scandal unearthed by regulators last fall.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) filed a civil suit against the automaker on Monday, alleging the company installed "defeat devices" on 600,000 vehicles in order to get around federal emissions rules.

The devices allowed VW's vehicles to emit up to 40 percent more nitrogen oxide than is legally permitted. Federal officials said the software was illegal under the Clean Air Act, and they faulted the company for manufacturing and selling cars that did not match the emissions specifications it provided to regulators.

The EPA initially accused VW in September of installing the devices on 482,000 diesel cars sold since 2008, though the number of affected vehicles has risen since then. The maximum fine for violating emissions rules is $37,000 per vehicle.

"With today's filing, we take an important step to protect public health by seeking to hold Volkswagen accountable for any unlawful air pollution, setting us on a path to resolution," said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for the EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.

VW said Monday that it would continue to cooperate with the federal probes into the scandal, but avoided mentioning the lawsuit. 

"We will continue to cooperate with all government agencies investigating these matter," the company said.

Read more here.


Check out some of our stories from the long holiday break: 

The Obama administration issued an aggressive slate of climate rules in 2015, focusing on carbon emissions from power plants, surface-level ozone concentration and waterway regulations. Republicans and industry groups opposed those rules and sued over them -- promising tough legal fights for federal environmental regulators in President Obama's final year in office. Read more here.

President Obama has the chance to significantly tie the hands of his successor when he issues the offshore drilling lease sale plan for 2017 to 2022. The most contentious fights over the plan, which will see its next draft in the coming months, surround proposals for lease sales in the Atlantic and Arctic oceans. Read more here.

ON TAP TUESDAY I: The Women's Council on Energy and the Environment will host a breakfast event featuring EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, who will speak about recent policy developments and her path in public service.

ON TAP TUESDAY II: The American Petroleum Institute will host its State of American Energy event. It's an annual speech in which Jack Gerard, the group's head, lays out his vision for the coming year in terms of policy and politics for the oil and natural gas industry.


Following the latest string of earthquakes around Edmond, Okla., Oklahoma state regulators are asking the operators of five drilling wastewater wells to reduce injections, The Oklahoman reports.

The EPA is requiring a barrier at a Missouri landfill to stop a smoldering fire from potentially hitting radioactive material, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

West Virginia's first coal industry fatality of the year came early Monday morning in the southern part of the state, West Virginia MetroNews reports.


Check out Monday's stories ...

-GOP candidates condemn Bundy takeover

-Synthetic turf industry lobbies up in safety fight
-EPA looks to build on 2015 wins this year
-White House calls Oregon standoff a 'local law enforcement matter'
-Feds sue VW over emissions scandal
-Cruz urges armed protesters in Oregon to 'stand down'
-Calif. well could leak methane for months
-Massachusetts goes to court over emissions limits

Please send tips and comments to Timothy Cama, tcama@thehill.com; and Devin Henry, dhenry@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @Timothy_Cama@dhenry@thehill